The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
There was a lot of hype going into tonight's episode. Show runner Glen Mazzara promised a cliffhanger that would shock the fans. I have to be honest- I didn't believe him. It's not that I didn't think it wouldn't be great, which it was, I just figured he was espousing the traditional pre-finale hype machine. I also figured there was no way they could top the events surrounding Lori, and to try would be a bit foolish. Thankfully they realized it too, and came up with something very interesting to send us off with. I didn't completely see those last five minutes coming, and it was great to watch them play out. It's gonna be a long two months...
Enter Tyreese (Chad Coleman). It was nice to get to meet somebody who isn't affiliated with Woodbury or the prison, of course once he and his rag tag group do find the prison they waltz right in like they own the place. I understand Rick's group have their quadrant sealed off, but you would think somebody would have noticed that bulldozer sized hole in the outer perimeter. Perhaps Axel got distracted trying to figure out which of the females was a lesbian, and Hershel was too busy itching his phantom limb. I do hope they pull a Planet Terror and find an assault rifle for his leg, it's what all the post-apocalyptic kids are doing. Carl deserves some kind of merit badge for voluntarily going toward the spooky screams from the depths of the prison. His whole rescue and subsequent locking up of Tyreese's group was a nice echoing of the season premiere. The kid has learned a lot, and he's proving it more and more with each passing episode. It was also refreshing to see Tyreese actually understand why Carl locked them in. There's only so much complaining we can take, although it would have be a bit prudent if Carl simply said "You're completely safe in here, and I'll let you out when I know I can trust you". It's a mindset any post-zombie apocalypse survivor should be able to understand.
Glenn wins the improvisation award this week. I thought he was going to check the walker's pockets, but no, he was always planning on ripping its arm off, snapping its bones, and using them as shivs. Maybe the brief time he spent at the prison really did rub off on him. I shudder to think what he could do with a plastic spork. Maggie is no slouch either; she has no qualms sinking the bone shiv deep into the neck of a Woodbury thug. I have to admit- the whole "Assault on Precinct Woodbury" portion of the episode, which was about half of it, didn't really do much for me. There were a lot of smoke grenades, a lot of people blindly firing machine guns, a few instances of people firing directly at other people but somehow missing, and a lot of taking refuge in whatever building was at hand. How is it that Rick and company hid in the bushes 100 feet from the wall, talked, argued, stood up and generally make commotion, but the geniuses with the spotlights never catch a glimpse? It’s a shame, because the action in the season premiere had such a rhythm to it, even if this situation is more chaotic, it would have been nice to have a flow in the edit. Much like Michonne never mentioning Merle, the use of the smoke grenades was as much for writer obfuscation than it was for actual camouflage. Yes, it makes sense they would use the grenades, but it’s also incredibly convenient to keep certain people from seeing each other. Oddly enough, the one person who actually sees someone is Rick, and that person is another manifestation of his slow decent into madness. I liked that Rick had to check the body just to make sure he didn’t really kill Shane twice.
I found it a bit humorous that the character with the least amount of patience, Michonne, sits quietly waiting for the Governor to come home. What ended up being so effective about the confrontation between them is how all of the Governor’s creepy secrets get smashed and brought into full view. Keeping his zombified daughter in a cage and a room full of heads in vats was bound to get out sometime; Michonne just helped him deal with his issues head on. I don’t know what’s worse- almost getting nipped by a severed head flopping around like a fish out of water, or getting a mouthful of walker formaldehyde. In spite of most of our distaste for the Governor, he truly believed his daughter was still in that biter husk. Even with a sizable chunk of glass in his eye, he still weeps for his child, clutching her corpse. That is a much more interesting idea than just being crazy for the sake of being crazy. He also gave us another taste of his worldview when he said the prison should be cleared out, and the biters should overrun it again. It’s like he’s playing a post apocalyptic version of Civilization; he actually is trying to control the landscape. Now that’s ambition.
The masterstroke of this episode comes in the final minutes. The Governor is not giving one of his “it’s OK, go back to your homes” speeches. No, this is the man fully realized; Governor 2.0 if you will. I sense a decline in his killing with kindness, I predict just plain old killing, which brings us to our buddy Merle. The lie he told about killing Michonne has come back to haunt him in a big way. What’s so great about this last scene is it’s not about Rick on the brink, or Carl in a pickle, it’s about the Dixon brothers against the world. Forget allegiances, forget what you think of Merle, it’s he and Daryl against the mob of Woodbury, whose side are you on? The variable in all this being Andrea; that sly worms eye view shot of her with gun at the ready is very telling. The second half of season three should open with some fireworks, they just won’t get lit until February.
Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him on Twitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.
Mania Grade: B+
Episode: Made to Suffer (Season 3, Episode 8)
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, David Morrissey, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker
Written By: Frank Darabont (developer), Robert Kirkman (series of graphic novels)
Directed By: Bill Gierhart